Why Dieters Succeed or Fail: The Relationship Between Reward and Punishment Sensitivity and Restrained Eating and Dieting Success

Nienke C Jonker*, Elise C Bennik, Peter J de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The current study set out to improve our understanding of the characteristics of individuals who are motivated to restrict their food intake yet who nevertheless fail to do so. We examined whether punishment sensitivity (PS) was related to restrained eating, and reward sensitivity (RS) to perceived dieting success. Additionally, it was examined whether executive control (EC) moderates the association between RS and perceived dieting success.

Methods: Female student participants (N = 290, aged 17-29, BMI between 18.5 and 38.0) completed questionnaires on restrained eating, perceived dieting success, RS and PS, and carried out a behavioral task to index EC.

Results: PS was indeed positively related to restrained eating. RS was positively related to perceived dieting success, yet, EC did not moderate this association.

Conclusion: The current study adds to the evidence that PS is related to individuals' motivation to restrict their food intake. Furthermore, it shows support for the suggestion that RS may facilitate food restriction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number636432
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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